Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Long Week On Elm St.: Part 5: The Unseen 26: Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

(Colon) (Subtitle)

Why'd I Buy It?: Came with the Freddy Four Pack I bought.

Why Haven't I Watched It?: Films reputation isn't that good, even among die hard Nightmare Fans. Renny Harlin considered this movie above his dignity.

How Was It?: Pretty fucking bad actually.

The movie gets off on the wrong foot by giving us a good look at the conception of Freddy. The scenes starts the film off on a nasty exploitive tone, and I’m someone for whom those two words are often compliments. Sure its mostly implied, but there are some things that can’t be done tastefully, and the gang rape of a nun by an asylum full of lunatics is one of them.

The problem is this tone carries over into the rest of the film. Whatever fun may be had is lost in the fact that Freddy is basically trying to rape Tina in several of his scenes. Now true sexualized menace has always been a part of Freddy’s persona. Unlike those knife wielding puritans Michael and Jason; always there to punish the unlucky teen foolhardy enough to light up a joint or have some sex outside the bonds of matrimony, Freddy is himself a lavacious libertine. There was certainly no small amount of sexual menace in Freddy’s treatment of Nancy, take the infamous Bathtub shot, or “I’m your boyfriend now.” It even showed up in Part 4 with the "wanna suck face?" sequence. The problem is his actions don’t have the weight they did. He’s still the same old goofy serial killer, except now he likes non consensual sex and the movie's not up to the task of grounding it within anything resembling the weight that it deserves. In other words if you want to have themes of sexual assault because you want to examine them, and use them to explore the things that truly frighten us (ala Nightmare) thats fine. If you want to use it because you need something to shoot in between the one liners and scenes of creepy unborn children, that's not so fine.

But its not just the movies sense of common decency that's hitting an all time low. The film’s dream sequences hit a new gimmicky low here, the nadir probably being the one where Freddy turns into a motorcycle and bonds with Tina’s boyfriend, in a scene that probably only frightened JG Ballard. Assuming of course that it didn’t just make him furiously masturbate.

A big plot point is made of the fact that Kruger is able to kill while Tina is awake. The odd thing is that it appears that he is able to kill the characters when THEY are awake to. Its sloppy filmmaking pure and simple on just about every level.

By this time the films formula’s have become completely see through. Kid likes Comics? Do you think he’ll get A-Haed?


Girl a swimmer? Perhaps that will fit in some way in her nightmares. Its far fetched I know but here me out.

Now this isn’t a problem in an of itself, as Dream Master Proved this formula can be a whole hell of a lot of fun when done right. The problem is, after the warm big budget look of Master, and the twisted imagitiveness of Warriors, Child is firmly back in the cheap and terrible looking mode of Freddy’s Revenge. It fails even as eye candy. And there's a lot less sequences then in your average Nightmare as well. Yes the food is terrible and such small portions.

Compounding the problem is the fact that even Englund seems to have given up at this point. If Part 4 had to deal with the problem that Freddy was no longer particularly scary Part 5 embraces it and makes sweet passionate love to it. Englund dresses up in something stupid like a chef’s suit, or a superhero costume, he makes some bad puns, and then he kills some unlucky actor working for scale. Rinse and repeat. I mean Super Freddy? Seriously. Fucking Super Freddy? Are you kidding me?

At the worst these two problem combine and we get results like the scene in which Englund literally slashes up a cardboard cut out while cackling for like a minute. Man you remember that scene where Freddy took Tina up the ceiling? Man that was scary and visually arresting. It seems like so long ago.

While Dream Child isn't as ideologically horrendous as Freddy's Revenge or as utterly incompetent as Freddy's Dead, this is a matter of degrees here people. Sure stubbing my toe may not suck as bad as losing my genitals in a fire, but I'd like to keep from doing either if I could help it.

But I know the Dream Child is just lulling me into a false sense of security, making me think I've seen the worse. When, just like in the horror movies we all know the slasher isn't dead. The bad Freddy movies have one more showing to make before I'm back on semi solid ground. And brother. Its a doozy.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, this was the point in the series where it was obvious everyone was going through the motions. Completely dull and lackluster.

Just though I'd point out, the title of your post should read 'The Dream Child.' :)

Franco Macabro said...

Freddy started becoming a joke with part four, and this one followed down the same path. So we got Renny Harlin and the writers of the fourth entry to blame for that!

The reason why Dream Child followed down the same path is probably because Dream Master was so successful. Actually, I believe the Dream Master was one of the most successful ones in the series.

So you know how studios think: "they liked funny freddy? Lets give them more funny Freddy!"
And thats what they did.

I re-watche all the Freddy movies on a constant basis because I grew up on these movies and find them fun and imaginative, though from the forth one forward Freddy is played for laughs rather than scares. Kind of like how Bride of Chucky was also a turning point for the Childs Play series. From the fourth one forward, the character is not scary anymore.

But, even the worst Freddy movie will amuse me with its dream/death sequences. On part five we get Freddy turning into a motorcycle, we get Freddy turning into a superhero and slashing up a kid like he was paper, Im not sure what he turned into with the swimmer...I mean what the hell did he actually do to that girl?

Some things didnt make sense in this sequel: why exactly was Freddy reborn in the church?

Why didnt Alice just show him a mirror all over again? Since "evil looks at itself in a mirror and dies" why not just do that again? It seemed to work well on the fourth movie! Duh!

Why exactly was the nuns ghost released when that girl touched the corpse in the church?

What does the girl have magic powers that make her release ghosts that are trapped in limbo or something?

But logic gaps aside, I still enjoy this one, I just dont take them too seriously thats all. The effects entertain me...and I liked looking briefly into Freddy's origins. I know you didnt like that part of the movie, but thos scenes where we see the "thousand maniacs" about to rape the nun...it showed the dark roots of the character.

I mean, even his conception was a fucked up event! He had Alice Cooper for a dad! Then he was a child murderer! Then he was burned alive! Then demons gave him the power to kill people in their dreams! Then he gets killed and reborn 7 or 8 times!!!

Wow, Ive rambled a little too long about Freddy. Sorry!

Bryce Wilson said...

@Pot: DOH! Thanks. That's what I get for posting at 2 AM.

@FC: As always you make some great points. (And for the Record Freddy turned into an evil Diving Board for the swimmers dream.)

Franco Macabro said...

An evil diving board, thats gotta be a first! Actually, thats the death i hate the most out of all the Freddy movies.